Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn't exactly known for its subtlety — considering that our heroes are mutated house pets that learn ninjutsu from their mutated rat master — but basic premise aside, some really, really crazy stuff has happened in the comics. Like, even crazier than your average superhero comic.
Continuously published in some form or another for the last 30 years, TMNT and its cast of characters has gone through some truly wild events that even the cartoon series couldn't match. Let's take a look at a few:
The Turtles Were Bred For Killing
The Turtles franchise is primarily known for its kid-friendly cartoons, movies and toys these days, but the original Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comics started as a send-up of the dark comics of the 1980s, like Frank Miller's Daredevil and Ronin.
As a kid turning from the original cartoon series to the comics, it was immediately apparent that something was vastly different. In the first issue, for example, we learn that Splinter has trained the Turtles as ninjas in order to avenge his dead master Hamato Yoshi, by taking down Shredder. And yes, he means for them to kill him. Which they do. And not just Shredder, either — they kill a lot. Why do you think they have deadly weapons in the first place?
April O'Neil And Casey Jones Had An Adopted Daughter
April and Casey were an on-again, off-again item through the comic's history. During one of their splits, Casey wandered off and fell in love with, and married, a pregnant woman who later died during childbirth.
Casey cared for the child, Shadow, as his own. When he eventually reconnected with April and the couple married, she too adopted Shadow. Naturally, Shadow's uncles — Leo, Mikey, Donny and Raph — taught her self-defense to make sure she'd be able to protect herself from their family's enemies.
April Became A Vigilante
April is best known as being the Turtles' human connection to the world; she's the link between the sewers and the streets. At least, until she hit the streets herself as the vigilante called Nobody.
Nobody was a mantle previously held by a cop character named Officer Longer, but after April discovered she wasn't the biological daughter of her parents (more on that later), she took up the identity to cope with her personal issues. It didn't last long, though; once Casey Jones discovered what she was doing, he put a stop to it. What a hypocrite.
The Shredder Was Resurrected — As A Colony Of Worms
In their first confrontation, Leonardo runs Shredder through with his katana before kicking him off a building and blowing him to smithereens. But we all know that Shredder is the archenemy of the Turtles, right? And he definitely continued to loom large over them throughout the comics.
That's because Shredder was resurrected as a creepy sentient worm colony imbued with all of the scorn and hatred of Oroku Saki and continued to plague our heroes. In fact, I'd argue that Worm Shredder was a greater threat to the Turtles than the original, considering he survived much longer. Eventually, Leo decapitated the worm-clone Shredder and burned his remains, ensuring his permanent destruction.
Pretty Much Everything That Happens In Volume 3
Speaking of massive transformations happening to the main characters (though maybe not on the same level as a worm clone), the third volume of the TMNT comics — published by Image Comics and later disavowed by the creators as non-canon — was chock-full of complete insanity. In no particular order, these things happened:
- Donatello lost his shell, was paralyzed, and became a cyborg.
- Raphael took over as the Shredder and led the Foot Clan.
- Splinter became a bat.
- Leonardo replaced his hand with a katana.
Oh, And April O'Neil Is A Drawing Come To Life
Remarkably, one thing that is canon but arguably more insane than anything listed above was the reveal that April wasn't human, or even flesh and bone. Instead, she's her father's drawing come to life with implanted memories.
Naturally, this spawned a journey for April, who now had to deal with the fact that she wasn't technically a "real" person, and struggling to cope with her new reality. This included leaving her family and the Turtles behind to find herself.
By the way, the only reason she was able to find all of this out was because of time travel. So there's that, too.
The Turtles Didn't Stay Teenagers
Mirage launched the fourth volume of TMNT in 2001, ignoring basically everything that happened in Volume 3 (see above). To allot for the time between the end of Volume 2 (1995) and the launch of Volume 4, the timeline jumped 15 years.
That means the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were now the Thirtysomething Mutant Ninja Turtles, but at least they got to keep their acronym. This marks the first and only time that the Turtles have been aged out of their name throughout their history. Aging characters in superhero comics is pretty rare as it is, but doing that to characters who are deliberately called "teenagers" is even more bold.
Casey Jones And Karai Probably Slept Together, But We'll Never Know For Sure
Karai was the leader of the Japanese branch of the Foot Clan that came to New York to cover for Shredder, who was busy being dead at the hands of the Turtles. She'd remain a primary villain throughout most incarnations of TMNT, comic or otherwise.
After April had her revelation about being a living drawing created by her father's magic pen, April and Casey's relationship went through a rocky patch and April took off, leaving her husband and daughter behind. In his grief, Casey hit the bars and woke up in Karai's bed with no memory of what actually transpired.
Unfortunately, the final Mirage TMNT series was canceled at this point and the property moved to its current home, IDW Publishing, where the continuity was rebooted.
Did Casey and Karai do the deed? I'm afraid we'll never really know.
But probably. Casey gonna Casey.